Hot topics of Russian disinfo: Russia celebrates May 9 while Ukraine exacts revenge for Stepan Bandera. Issue #37

  • Poklonskaya has flooded the Ukrainian media space with herself, she is not only criticized.
  • Medical reform, even sabotaged, is still being compared to genocide.
  • Disinformers continue to write about quarantine fatigue, forgetting that the coronavirus is much more depleting.
  • Tymoshenko, OPFL, and Kolomoisky's group have criticized the Rada's recent decisions using the theses of Moscow's disinformation.
  • More celebration, less grief on May 9th. Pompous heroization of the role of the USSR in World War II.
  • At the same time, an attack on nationalists is unfolding; attacks on Sternenko are mingled with Farion's quotes about yogurts.
  • Want to find more themes? Take advantage of the updated dashboard, in which we collected materials for the last year until last Monday.

Period: May 11—17, 2020

May 11—17, 2020
May 11—17, 2020

"Radical nationalists" rule Ukraine, no one understands "the exceptional nature of the Victory Day for Russians"

This week, disinformers paid a lot of attention to the mythologizing of "Ukrainian nationalists" and continued to pump up the theme of the May 9 celebrations. They quoted Medvedchuk who promised to create a "Ukrainian Front" whose task will be the "protection of historical memory, protection of the results of the Victory in the Great Patriotic War, protection of May 9, protection of the great feat of our veterans."

They appointed Serhiy Sternenko, an activist from Odesa, to play the role of a scarecrow, a “radical nationalist”. Clickbait sites called him a "murderer" who is engaged in "inciting ethnic strife, dividing Ukrainians into right and wrong, blocking concertsprotecting drug dens in Odesa." In fact, in 2018, Sternenko was attacked three times. Last time, defending his life, he fatally wounded one of the attackers. Disinformers make him a murderer and demand his imprisonment.

Russian sites targeting Ukrainian issues have found examples of Ukraine becoming a model of "Russophobia" for other countries in the region. They wrote about the new language law in Uzbekistan where: "Ukraine was the first cited in the explanations to the bill". Leading Russian websites also wrote about the search for "Russophobia": "Tajikistan and Uzbekistan are destroying traces of Russian culture."

Russia: "surrounded by enemies" but still able to "put the US against the wall"

Clickbaits and Russian sites targeting Ukrainian issues tried to sow despair and frustration with the Ukrainian authorities: "It seemed that under the current government, Ukraine is no longer able to resist not only Putin's military aggression, but also ideology"; and with Western allies: "The West is tired of helping Ukraine... and is only ready to use the country's population as cheap labor." There were also direct threats: "Odesa, Kherson, Mykolaiv, Zaporizhia can secede from the country".

At the same time, Russian sites, including those targeting Ukrainian issues, continue to disseminate Russia’s bravado. It turns out that Russia has "put the US against the wall" on the issue of sanctions against Iran. One wonders if the US is aware of that. Poland and Belarus also received some attention. Poland "even played into the hands of Gazprom" by not signing a new transit agreement with Russia. Healthy competition and the abandonment of monopoly would really benefit Gazprom which had turned from a profitable company into an appendage of Russian foreign policy.

Disinformers specifically mentioned the historical memory of Estonia, the Czech Republic, and Poland. Apparently, Russia is surrounded by a solid belt of unfriendly countries that cannot forgive Russia its "prowess" and do not want to recognize the "exceptional nature of the Victory Day for Russians." With this "exceptional nature", disinformers are trying to justify Russia's intervention in the demolition of the Konev monument in Prague. We remind you that after the city community made the decision, the mayor began to be threatened, and the Czech media reported there were attempts to assassinate him.

Disinformers also justify the aggressive policy of the USSR, which attacked Poland in collusion with Nazi Germany. They wrote that the Soviet Union was not at war with Poland, it simply "entered basically unowned territories."

As for Belarus, Russian sites have accused it of "wanting to parasitize" Russia. At the same time, they argue that the "Americans" want to use it to "build a so-called sanitary border against Russia." Disinformers are trying to portray Russia as a victim of a United States intrigue.

Gordon and Poklonskaya who wants "peace" and to come to Kyiv

Last week, all types of media that we monitor widely discussed Dmitry Gordon’s interview with Russian State Duma deputy and former prosecutor of the occupied Crimea Natalia Poklonskaya.

Some Ukrainian manipulative media criticized Gordon, abusing emotional expressions such as "Gordon provides a place to talk to the pretty one, covering his bald head with the right to controversy." This is emotional, but not Russian disinformation.

In the meantime, pro-Russian manipulative media, along with Russian sites, focused on Ukrainian issues, used this interview to legitimize pro-Russian discourse. For example, they published the interview for the appearance with clickbait headlines such as "Poklonskaya is preparing to get a new office and is going to Kyiv: "Because I love Ukraine" and contributed to the dissemination of her quotes in the Ukrainian media. At the same time, they used the technique when some theses "close" to some readers (for example, "Poklonskaya admitted that she supports the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky, and would vote for him in the election") was mixed with Russian propaganda messages (such as "she wants peace between the people again”).

They also quoted Gordon's comments, in which he suggested that "the criticism of his interview with State Duma deputy Natalia Poklonskaya came only from Poroshenko’s and FSB bots" and spoke theses ideologically "correct" for Russia such as "someday (I'm absolutely sure) history will be studied not on completely false textbooks, which are constantly rewritten in favor of each new regime, but on the impartial or partial judgments of my interlocutors."

Tymoshenko criticizes the land reform, Dubinsky expects "default in autumn"

This week, clickbaits wrote about the Batkivshchyna party's struggle against land law. They quoted Yulia Tymoshenko's words about the land market: "Are we Papuans, have we changed everything we have left for rattles?" And they also wrote that Zelensky "lost his one party majority" in the vote for the law prohibiting the return of nationalized banks to their previous owners - the “anti-Kolomoisky” law.

They also paid a lot of attention to statements by MP Dubinsky, who "predicted a default in autumn" and who threatened that Ukraine would have to "pay with land" for its debt obligations. It will be recalled that the International Monetary Fund has agreed to a reduced funding program for Ukraine this year. The IMF money will be enough to ensure the stability of public finances and to pay off debts in 2020.

Ukrainian sanctions against Russian companies: "minimizing Ukrainian-Russian conversation", and "revenge for objective characterization of Stepan Bandera"

Clickbait sites and Russian sites targeting Ukrainian issues did not overlook the issue of continuing blockage of Russian social networks. They published original explanations of the Ukrainian president's decision: "the purpose of blocking social networks in Ukraine is to minimize communication between Ukrainians and Russians in order to deprive citizens of the opportunity to learn true information."

But this explanation was not the only one. Deprived of Russian social networks, Ukrainians apparently will be unable to learn about the state of "health and mental balance" of their acquaintances from Russia. Moreover, the decision to block Russian websites has been called as "splitting the country" and "a part of the arbitrariness towards the media in Ukraine, where journalism has long been associated with risk."

Russian websites have pointed out that Zelensky has expanded the list of sanctions for companies and organizations and has added some Russian academic institutions and museums. They try to put this as "revenge for the historical truth, for the objective assessment of Stepan Bandera and the UPA in the history of the Second World War." Russian museums and universities are on the list due to their illegal activities in the occupied Crimea. At the same time, some individuals and companies have disappeared from the list.

Also this week:

Protecting minister Stepanov from “the children of Soros”

Last week, Russian websites targeting Ukrainian topics have defended minister Stepanov from "the children of Soros" who criticized the Ministry of Health's obstacles to healthcare reform and the problems with governmental medical procurement. “The so-called activists, funded by the West, also known as "the children of Soros", always pay special attention to the activities of the Ministry of Health. And if the minister is not one of their "orbit", then all resources are actively attacking both the minister personally and any initiative of the ministry as a whole."

Discrediting the Security Service of Ukraine

Disinformers discredited the work of cyber specialists of the Security Service to expose trolls who spread various fakes about the COVID-19 epidemic. Allegedly, because of this, they “did not catch cybercriminals clearing the bank accounts of Ukrainians, or fraudsters, extracting the last penny from citizens. Cyber security officers tracked down those who spread horror stories about the coronavirus."

Criticizing Saakashvili

They wrote about the "criminal past" of Saakashvili who will soon "destroy Ukraine". Russian websites have traditionally accused Saakashvili of "crimes against civilians," meaning Russian satellite unrecognized countries in the occupied territories of Georgia. They also exaggerated the deterioration of Ukraine's relations with Georgia due to the appointment of the former Georgian president.

Justifying Russian invasion with a “referendum”

Disinformers wrote about the anniversary of the pseudo-referendum in May 2014 which the militants used to legitimize the Russian military invasion of Ukraine. At the same time, they accuse the Ukrainian authorities of actions "aimed at the destruction of everything that is Russian and Orthodox" which allegedly led to the armed conflict.


This week, disinformers paid a lot of attention to nationalism, real and imaginary. Continuing the theme of "nationalism" in Ukraine, manipulative sites wrote about "unfriendly" countries all around Russia. The list of "the unfriendly ones" included almost all neighboring countries, including even the Czech Republic; they were all accused of not recognizing Russia's prominent role in World War II. Most of the accusations went to the traditional antagonists, such as Poland, Ukraine, and the Baltic states. Since the end of last year, Belarus has been increasingly included in the list. Disinformers accuse Belarus of wanting to "exploit" Russia and of its excessive foreign policy independence from Russia. This time, even Uzbekistan was blamed for the government's language initiatives.

Examples of headlines

Gordon and Poklonskaya who wants "peace" and to come to Kyiv

Poklonskaya sensationally comes to Gordon to be interviewed: video live | dialog.ua

Poklonskaya prepares for a new office and plans to come to Kyiv: “Because I love Ukraine” | politeka.net

Poklonskaya suddenly responds to Gordon who called here “the symbol of betraying Ukraine”. Deatails | dialog.ua

Poklonskaya ready to become the ambassador of Russia to Ukraine (VIDEO) | informator.news

"Radical nationalists" rule Ukraine, no one understands "the exceptional nature of the Victory Day for Russians"

Shariy: National Corps uses children for provocations | front-novorossii.ru

Medvedchuk: OPFL to create “Ukrainian front” to protect the historical memory of the country | hyser.com.ua

Sternenko protects drug dens in Odesa | jizn.info

“Not Great Patriotic but Soviet-German”: Azarov shocked by a school history lesson by Drobovych | ukraina.ru

Uzbek officials want to follow Ukrainian “language law” | anna-news.info

Czech expert calls his fellow citizens to recognize the exceptional nature of the Victory Day for Russians | riafan.ru

Russia: "surrounded by enemies" but still able to "put the US against the wall"

Russia names “the regions willing to secede from Ukraine” | vesti.ua

Kyiv taken: Zelensky surrenders the capital to Medvedchuk without a fight | antikor.com.ua

Bezpalko tells us what happens to Belarus if it will be a “capricious bridge” between Russia and the West | ukraina.ru

Pushkov reminds of the threat of “nuclear winter” to the US ambassador in Poland | riafan.ru

Overthrown and assassinated: Lukashenko’s tragic destiny foretold | dni.ru

Tymoshenko criticizes the land reform, Dubinsky expects "default in autumn"

The freaks are after the land again - Tymoshenko | kordon.org.ua

Smoke, bugs, and Soros’ money. Rada session stopped due to an unusual incident | ukraina.ru

Rating does not stink. How Ze Team grows its ratings using even the coronavirus | ukraina.ru

A “servant of Kolomoisky” can become a Kyiv mayor candidate - MP Dubinsky | front-novorossii.ru

Ukrainian sanctions against Russian companies: "minimizing Ukrainian-Russian conversation", and "revenge for objective characterization of Stepan Bandera"

“He’ll pull his Tomos out to show it in the end”. What Ukrainians say about Zelensky’s prolongation of the prohibition of Russian websites | strana.ua

Russian foreign ministry calls the blockage of Russian sites by Russia an act of censorship and arbitrariness | strana.ua

Satanovsky calls Ukraine’s new sanctions against Russia “a show of exceptional stupidity” | naspravdi.info

“They can realize they’ve got nothing to conflict about”. Kyiv afraid of Ukrainians getting friendly with Russians | nahnews.org

People in Ukraine remember how Zelensky criticized the prohibition of Russian social media | regnum.ru


We searched for topics in 11560 materials in the Russian language from:

Manipulation in news was singled out by our improved AI classifier developed in the project We’ve got bad news. In the monitoring, we only regarded materials about social and political life which are about Ukraine.

Limitations of the study:

In this study, we only regarded the topics which are in line with Russian disinformation campaigns. Most of them are based on real events, as disinformation works more effectively this way. Topic names reflect manipulations used in the topic. Accordingly, news stories on Ukrainian mainstream sites on the same topic may have completely different content from that of manipulative materials.

We take the topics of Russian propaganda in Ukraine from the following groups of materials:

In the first and second groups of news, the materials were selected by the AI classifier of manipulative news.

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